“If the Muslims live according to the highest values that they know, their eventual reward in heaven will be beyond their wildest dreams.”
“Muhammad was a descendant from Abraham and was no doubt raised up by God on purpose”
-Elder George A. Smith
“I sympathise with the Muslims, who, like us Latter-day Saints, find it difficult to get an honest history written about them.”
-Elder George A. Smith
“upon the whole, many Muslims have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations.”
-Elder Parley P. Pratt
Muhammad was one of the great religious leaders of the world, who received a portion of God’s light, and I affirm that moral truths were given to [Muhammad and other influential leaders like the Buddha etc] by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.”
-President Spencer W. Kimball
“It may come as a surprise to many Latter-day Saints to learn that there are many important elements of Mormon thought in which we would feel closer to the followers of Muhammad than to the contemporary Christian culture in which we have been located since our beginnings.”
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
I find it incredibly sad that there are still members of the LDS faith who hate Islam. They really don’t know the history of Islam and who Muhammad truly was as a person. If only they would study the words of our modern day Prophets and Apostles who have told us time and time again, that Islam was ordained of God to bring the Arabs out of idolatry.
Former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints George A. Smith had a lot of good things to say about Muhammad. As well as the Prophet Joseph Smith, Gordon B. Hinkley, Bruce R. McConkie, Spencer W. Kimball, Brigham Young, and many many other Church leaders. Yet there are still members who continue to bash Muhammad and Islam in general, and it’s sad to see how ignorant some Latter-day Saints are, even we’re an extremely misunderstood faith throughout the world. George A. Smith said the following about Muhammad:
“About six hundred years after Christ a prophet rose in Arabia, by the name of Mahomet…” “… “…there was nothing in his religion to license iniquity or corruption; he preached the moral doctrines which the Savior taught; viz., to do as they would be done by; and not to do violence to any man, nor to render evil for evil; and to worship one God.”
The History of Mahomedanism, A Discourse by Elder George A. Smith, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, September 23, 1855. Reported by G. D. Watt.
Two of the most misunderstood things in the Church are prayer, and the Word of Wisdom. I briefly covered what Saints get wrong about prayer in a previous blog, but I will write a more comprehensive article on prayer in the near future. Today, I am focusing on some aspects of the Word of Wisdom, and how it is misunderstood today.
I just want to state
that I am not encouraging anybody to drink beer or partake in anything that is
contradictory to the current Temple Recommend worthiness. I don’t condone beer
today for example, as it has a much higher alcohol content than it did in the
1800’s, but I also do not think anybody has broken the Word of Wisdom if they
have consumed the occasional beer. And just to clarify, no, I do not partake in
any alcoholic beverages myself, and neither do any of my immediate family.
The Word of Wisdom was laid out through Revelation from the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833, and is found in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. But, we have to remember that the scriptures have to be read in the context of the times they were written in. We cannot read the scriptures through modern eyes, as we will totally misunderstand them, and misinterpret them, and that is exactly what has happened in regards to the Word of Wisdom. That is why it’s essential to read the scriptures prayerfully, so that the spirit can help us to understand exactly what is being taught. When we read D&C Section 89, we have to read it in its cultural context, as the way people looked at the things described within that passage of scripture were very different from the way we look at those things today. Sadly the Word of Wisdom of today is much harsher than the one that was revealed to Joseph Smith, and a lot of un-Christlike judgments are placed on people who don’t fully follow today’s version of the Word of Wisdom.
Lets start by talking
about what the Word of Wisdom means by “strong drinks,” which has
been sorely misinterpreted by the majority of Saints of today. During the time
when Joseph Smith was given the Word of Wisdom from God, America was facing a
huge crisis, which was drunkenness, and severe alcoholism was strife throughout
the land, and the sales of distilled drinks, mainly whiskey had risen to an
extreme high, and yes, it was a major national security issue. Anybody who has
the slightest knowledge about Mormon history knows that what Joseph Smith meant
in regards to strong drinks, was distilled spirits. Strong Drinks doesn’t mean
wine, or beer for example, as they’re not distilled alcoholic drinks. Wine, is
prohibited in the Word of Wisdom, unless it be for sacrament only. The word sacrament
didn’t just refer to the holy sacrament in 1800’s America, but it also referred
to marriage, and wine was often consumed (only a glass to toast or to
celebrate) at Latter-day Saint weddings, with cake and other foods. Wine was
also used as part of the dedication ceremony of the Kirtland Temple, and the
Saints used red current wine, which was provided by the Whitney family, from
their vineyard. Mild Barley drinks are also good for the body. Mild barley
drinks means beer, and in the 1800’s many Saints used to drink the occasional
mild beer. Even the Danish General Authorities used to drink mild Danish beer
right up until the mid-twentieth-century, when Heber J. Grant put a stop to it.
There are three phases
of evolution of the Word of Wisdom. The first phase (which sadly no one really
pays much attention to) is the purest form, the Revelation that was given to
Joseph Smith in 1833, Brigham Young’s version of the Word of Wisdom, and pretty
much the one we have today, the Heber J. Grant version. Now, much of the
misunderstandings also come from Brigham Young’s. The reason why Brigham Young,
in a sense, rewrote the Word of Wisdom, was due to the fact that when the
Saints settled in Salt Lake, money was incredibly scarce, so to preserve and
save money, Brigham Young commanded the Saints to stop buying imported and
luxury goods. Two of the most expensive goods at the time was tea and coffee,
so Brigham didn’t want the Saints to buy such expensive items, and that is how
tea and coffee was incorporated into the Word of Wisdom we have today as
meaning hot drinks. The Saints used to consume tea and coffee (once the
temperatures had cooled) in moderation. Hot Drinks is purely about the temperature
of the drinks, not the content (tea and coffee), and I firmly believe that if
iced drinks were around in Joseph Smiths day then iced drinks would also be
prohibited, as both hot drinks and iced drinks take you out of balance, so
drinks should be drank at room temperature. Saints who drink hot chocolate for example,
are not following the Word of Wisdom fully, as it states in D&C 89: “And
again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.” We know today that tea has an immense amount
of health benefits, and even coffee can be healthy if consumed in moderation.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about the word of Wisdom today is
caffeine. Nowhere in the Word of Wisdom does it mention anything about
caffeine. If it was about caffeine, then chocolate would be prohibited also. I
know members who refuse to drink Cola and other Caffeinated drinks, but will
happily consume decaffeinated coffee for example, which is a totally wrong
interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. Caffeine in moderation has health
benefits, such as it helps reduce migraines, and I believe it is used on
newborn babies who have irregular heartbeats (if any of my readers has any
medical knowledge, it would be great if you could elaborate more on that in the
comment section). Again, I’m not encouraging anybody to go out and drink
coffee, as I believe there is a problem with coffee addiction in today’s
society, and that’s why the Church warns us against coffee. Tobacco is prohibited
to consume in the Word of Wisdom, however if you know what you’re doing it is permitted to
be used to clean and help heal wounds by placing tobacco in a bandage then
wrapping it over the wound, and for sick cattle.
A basic way to describe
the word of wisdom would be that it is the opposite of gluttony. The Word of
Wisdom is about temperance, and being balanced. Drunkenness, smoking, drug
abuse, over eating, over drinking (even over-drinking water can be extremely
dangerous, as it can lower your sodium levels), sleeping late etc etc, takes
you way out of balance, and leads to addictions, which is then a sin, as it has
taken you away from the spirit. The Word of Wisdom is all about precisely that,
wisdom. If we use our wisdom, then we can each find a perfect (or near perfect)
balance that best suites us, and helps us remain worthy enough to enter the
Temple, and partake in the ordinances of exaltation, as the Doctrine and
Covenants is all scripture that is for our exaltation.
So we have discussed
how alcohol is not actually prohibited in the Word of Wisdom, getting drunk and
consuming distilled spirits are, you might be thinking, then what else is
alcohol used for? If we are referring to the pure and original Word of Wisdom,
as laid out in the D&C, then we know that strong drinks (distilled spirits)
are permitted to be used for ritual cleansing. During the Kirtland Temple
period, the Saints used to perform ritual cleansing either in one of the
classrooms of the Temple, or at Joseph Smiths home, by pouring cinnamon whiskey
and perfumed water over themselves, changing into clean clothes, and then
entering the holy Temple to be anointed. We know that Joseph Smith received
much revelation and many changes through revelation were made regarding temple
worship and how the ordinances were performed, but I do not want to focus on
that, as this article is about the Word of Wisdom, but I will say that I
believe the changes in the Temple in regards to how the ordinances are
performed came about because God moves with the times, and he knew that Temples
were soon to be spread throughout the world, so he made the ordinances less
time consuming and burdensome.
I just wanted to finish
off by quickly talking about Coke, and red meats. When we consume red meats it
stimulates the body, and too much red meat throws us out of balance, so red
meats should only be consumed in the winter, as it helps warm the body, and in
times of famine. There is a huge problem with Church members overindulging on
meats throughout the world. At most Church events you will see a huge abundance
of meats being used for the events food.
Now quickly going back
to Coke and caffeinated beverages. David O’McKay was a very big fan of Pepsi,
so what does that tell us?
The other day I wrote about how the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible should not be the only version of the Bible used by Latter-day Saints. Here is a remarkable quote from Brigham Young commanding any Christian scholar out there who can translate the Bible better than the KJV to do so, as they would be obliged to. Since Brigham stated this, there have been some fantastic translations of the Bible translated, so I encourage all English speaking Latter-day Saintsto expand your horizons and read other translations. Here is what Brigham said regarding the KJV:
“If [the Bible] be translated incorrectly, and there is a scholar on the earth who professes to be a Christian, and he can translate it any better than King James’s translators did it, he is under obligation to do so, or the curse is upon him. If I understood Greek and Hebrew as some may profess to do, and I knew the Bible was not correctly translated, I should feel myself bound by the law of justice to the inhabitants of the earth to translate that which is incorrect and give it just as it was spoken anciently. Is that proper? Yes, I would be under obligation” (Brigham Young, “Remarks,” Deseret Evening News, 2 September 1871)
Now, I’m in no way attempting to be negative in this article, neither am I focusing on anybody in particular, as I’m focusing on the Church as a whole. If I offend anybody, then please accept my humble apologise, as it wasn’t my intention to offend. The purpose of this post is a positive one, that is aimed at helping us progress as Latter-day Saints. I’m only speaking on a few issues here, but future blogs will focus on the rest.
Opening and closing prayers
One of the things that we can all notice, is how many Latter-day Saints misunderstand opening and closing prayers at our Church meetings. I have been in Church meetings where some opening and closing prayers have gone on about five minutes, and the prayer turns into a general prayer, where members begin to pray for a peace in the world, our prophets, missionaries, etc etc. All of this is fine in personal and group prayers, but not for opening and closing prayers at meetings. Opening prayers are only for inviting the presence of the Holy Ghost, and closing prayers are a way to give thanks and close the meeting still in the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is a very busy person, and he only abides for a few seconds during prayers, he doesn’t have time to stick around, so long prayers will only lose the congregation.
Testimonies are supposed to be all about bearing testimony and declaring what you know to be true in regards to the Gospel. Testimonies are not a time for members to instruct others, to tell a story, or to give a sermon. Testimonies are supposed to be short and sweet, and they shouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes long. Also, we rarely hear of people testifying of the Gospel these days, we really only hear “I know the Church is true,” whereas the Gospel is rarely mentioned.
I have a very lengthy blog planned on this subject I’ll be writing over the next week or so, so I will not go into details today, but many Latter-day Saints are still influenced by 19th Century traditions regarding the use of the King James Version (KJV). No, Latter-day Saints are not commanded to use only the KJV, neither does the Church have any offical declarations regarding what Bible translations to use. The KJV is only primarily used in the Church because it was used by Joseph Smith, and it was once the leading translation throughout the English speaking world, but it is extremely dated by today’s standards, and many mistranslations have since been found by scholars. So I urge all Latter-day Saints who feel they’re not allowed to use and study from other translations to not be afraid, and to find a Bible translation that best suites you. Even using it in Sunday School if you feel you can better understand another translation. For example, the KJV Isaiah is very messy and very hard to understand, but if you read a more literal translation, it is actually pretty easy to grasp Isaiah, if you have the spirit with you. My personal favourite translations of the Bible are the NRSV, The NRSV Harper Collins Study Bible (the Bible translation most used by scholars and academics), the Jewish Study Bible, and the Thomas Wayment New Testament For Latter-day Saints.
Like Testimonies and prayers, blessings should also be kept short (unless the spirit dictates otherwise). I’ve heard blessings go on for much longer than necessary, and the spirit had already left the room not even half way through. It’s essential to keep blessings short, as we could be in danger of overthinking and using our own words which did not come from the spirit.
There is a big misunderstanding in the Church when it comes to conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost, baby blessings, and to some extent patriarchal blessings. Conferring the gift gift of the Holy Ghost is not a blessing, it is an ordinance, and it should only be a quick ordinance, but most priesthood holders feel the need to give a blessing afterwards, which is fine if the spirit dictates, but I’m certain that the spirit doesn’t dictate on all occasions to do so. The same goes for baby blessings, they’re actually supposed to only be about bringing a baby to the Lord and revealing to the Lord what the baby’s name is. Baby blessings tend to go a little overboard though nowadays, and much is promised to the child through the words of men and not necessarily through the spirit. After the naming, the baby should be blessed that “they should be receptive to the Gospel,” but a lot of blessings state all the things that are going to happen in the child’s life, and that’s not how the Lord works, and that’s not the intent of a baby blessing. Patriarchal blessings are actually not a prophecy or a look into your future, they are rather supposed to be the means in which we learn what tribe we belong to, and our all encouraged to study the roles and responsibilities of our tribe, so we will know what we will be doing in the times to come. I’ve had a couple of friends who have had extremely short blessings, only a few words really, after they found out their divine lineage.
And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees;
2 And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
5 And the Lord said unto me: The planet which is the lesser light, lesser than that which is to rule the day, even the night, is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years.
6 And the Lord said unto me: Now, Abraham, these two facts exist, behold thine eyes see it; it is given unto thee to know the times of reckoning, and the set time, yea, the set time of the earth upon which thou standest, and the set time of the greater light which is set to rule the day, and the set time of the lesser light which is set to rule the night.
7 Now the set time of the lesser light is a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of the earth upon which thou standest.
8 And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;
9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
10 And it is given unto thee to know the set time of all the stars that are set to give light, until thou come near unto the throne of God.
11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;
12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.
13 And he said unto me: This is Shinehah, which is the sun. And he said unto me: Kokob, which is star. And he said unto me: Olea, which is the moon. And he said unto me: Kokaubeam, which signifies stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven.
14 And it was in the night time when the Lord spake these words unto me: I will multiply thee, and thy seed after thee, like unto these; and if thou canst count the number of sands, so shall be the number of thy seeds.
15 And the Lord said unto me: Abraham, I show these things unto thee before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words.
16 If two things exist, and there be one above the other, there shall be greater things above them; therefore Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen, because it is nearest unto me.
17 Now, if there be two things, one above the other, and the moon be above the earth, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it; and there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.
18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.
19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.
20 The Lord thy God sent his angel to deliver thee from the hands of the priest of Elkenah.
21 I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to declare unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen.
22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.
In an effort to make the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints look less Christian, many of Mormonism’s critics mock the idea of “God living on the planet Kolob.” This is false as no where in Mormon theology do you find the teaching that God lives on Kolob. God does not live on Kolob. In fact, Kolob plays no real role in Mormon doctrine or discourse. The only other mention of Kolob comes from a 19th century hymn, which uses Kolob in its first line to describe the glorious life of those who return to God:
There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.
Because Mormon theology believes in a God with a physical body, it is in no way surprising that one might speak of God’s location in physical space. Creedal Christian critics who believe in a God without “body, parts, or passions” exploit this difference in perspective to make Mormon beliefs seem blasphemous or bizarre. But, to speak of God as having a physical location is no more strange than to speak of Jesus’ physical location in Bethlehem or Jerusalem during His mortal life.
So What is Kolob?
If you ask this question to fellow Latter-day Saints, many will not be able to answer, as there is actually no absolute sound and sure doctrine on Kolob.
In fact there are many answers to this question, from many different scholars, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to focus first on what our Church leaders have said about Kolob, then the scholarly thoughts. Here is what Elder Bruce R. McConkie said about Kolob:
“Kolob means “the first creation.” It is the name of the planet “nearest to the celestial, or residence of God.” It is “first in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time…One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth.” (Book of Abraham, pp. 34-35; Abraham. 3:3-9.)
(-Bruce R. McConkie “Mormon Doctrine”)
The Book of Abraham isn’t clear on whether Kolob is a star or a planet, and Mormon writings have taken positions on both sides of this issue. One part of the Book of Abraham states that Abraham “saw the stars … and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; … and the name of the great one is Kolob.” Thus, Kolob is referred to as a “star”. However, the book of Abraham defines the word Kokaubeam (a transliteration of the Hebrew “כּוֹכָבִים” [c.f., Gen. 15:5]) as meaning “all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven”. This would appear to include planets as among the “stars”, and the Book of Abraham refers to Earth as a star. In addition, the Book of Abraham’s text appears to classify Kolob as being among a hierarchy of “planets”. On the other hand, in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar paper, Kolob is classified as one of twelve “fixed stars”, in distinction with fifteen “moving planets”. The term “fixed stars” generally refers to the background of celestial objects that don’t appear to move relative to each other in the night sky, generally including all stars other than the sun, nebulae and other star-like objects. Though “fixed”, such objects were proven to have proper motion by Edmund Halley in 1718. Apparently referring to proper motion, the Prophet Joseph Smith stated that Kolob moves “swifter than the rest of the twelve fixed stars”. Also, the Book of Abraham refers to “fixed planets”, thereby including planets in the set of celestial objects that may be “fixed”. He also refers to the sun as a “governing planet”, which also further complicates the terminology. So, from the variety of terminology Joseph Smith used in referencing Kolob and other astronomical objects, it is unclear whether he understood Kolob to be a planet or a star.
Writers in the Latter Day Saint movement have taken positions on both sides of the issue of whether Kolob is a star or a planet. Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), spoke of Kolob as a planet. Likewise, LDS Church apostles John Taylor, Orson Pratt (a mathematician with an interest in astronomy), Orson F. Whitney, and Alvin R. Dyer referred to Kolob as a planet. Other Mormon theologians have also viewed Kolob as a planet. Several other Mormon writers have referred to Kolob as a star, including B. H. Roberts and LDS Church president David O. McKay.
The great Professor Hugh Nibley however, stated that Kolob may have been constructed as a metaphor for Jesus Christ.
Some Latter-day Saint scholars have sought to link the Kolob doctrine to ancient astronomy. Gee, Hamblin & Peterson (2006) have sought to show that this astronomy is more consistent with ancient geocentrism than with 19th-century Copernican and Newtonian astronomy, and thus carries with it the misconceptions of ancient astronomy. For example, in their interpretation, Kolob is the highest and slowest moving of a series of concentric heavenly spheres, which are centered on Earth. These authors believe that Smith, in the 19th century, would not have made this geocentric “mistake” about Kolob, and therefore, they argue that the Book of Abraham is of ancient origin. John Tvedtnes suggested that “Another possible Hebrew etymology is the Hebrew KLB ‘dog’ originally pronounced kalb just as it is in Arabic. This is used to denote the star Regulus in Arabic while the Syriac, which is also kalb denotes the star Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens.” He also suggested that the Hebraic use of “KLB” as both the word dog and an astronomical term refers to the universality of Sirius as the “Dog Star.” Other Latter-day Saint scholars believe that Kolob is Polaris.
I am very interested to hear about what other Latter-day Saints think about Kolob, and if anybody has any other material on the subject, I’d love to read it.
As a Christian my atheist friends usually say to me things like “how can you believe in religion,” and “I can’t believe you don’t believe in evolution and you think the earth is only a few thousand years old.” In fact there is absolutely nothing in the holy scriptures that claim the earth is young or that there is no evolution. The Book of Genesis was not written as a scientific fact book on the creation, it is not a book on science, rather it was to teach the Jews that there is a God, and they’re the chosen people to bring down the Torah (Laws) of God. My atheist friends couldn’t be more wrong. As a devout Christian and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I absolutely do believe in science, and evolution. I also believe the earth is billions of years old. If you read The Bible and especially the Pearl of Great Price properly, you will find out that the earth is extremely old, and there is guided evolution. Here are a few quotes from our modern day Prophets, Apostles and scholars on science, religion and evolution:
“In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular… whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant.” President (Prophet) Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 14:166, May 14, 1871.)
“… for by the scriptural record itself we learn of stage after stage, age after age of earth processes by which eventually this planet became capable of supporting life — vegetable, animal and human in due course…
But this we know, for both revealed and discovered truth, that is to say both scripture and science, so affirm — that plant life antedated animal existence and that animals preceded man as tenants of earth.
According to the conception of geologists the earth passed through ages of preparation, to us unmeasured and immeasurable, during which countless generations of plants and animals existed in great variety and profusion and gave in part the very substance of their bodies to help form certain strata which are still existent as such. [This was written before the introduction of radioactive isotope dating techniques.]
The oldest, that is to say the earliest, rocks thus far identified in land masses reveal the fossilized remains of once living organisms, plant and animal. The coal strata, upon which the world of industry so largely depends, are essentially but highly compressed and chemically changed vegetable substance. The whole series of chalk deposits and many of our deep-sea limestones contain the skeletal remains of animals. These lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation.” (Elder James E. Talmage)
“In due course came the crowning work of this creative sequence, the advent of man! Concerning this all-important event we are told that scientists and theologians are at hopeless and irreconcilable variance. I regard the assumption or claim, whichever it be, as an exaggeration. Discrepancies that trouble us now will diminish as our knowledge of pertinent facts is extended. The creator has made record in the rocks for man to decipher; but He has also spoken directly regarding the main stages of progress by which the earth has been brought to be what it is. The accounts can not be fundamentally opposed; one can not contradict the other; though man’s interpretation of either may be seriously at fault.” (Elder James E. Talmage)
“Let us not try to wrest the scriptures in an attempt to explain away what we can not explain. The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were never intended as a text-book of geology, archaeology, earth-science or man-science.” (Elder James E. Talmage)
“I cannot agree with your conception that there was no death of plants and animals anywhere upon this earth prior to the transgression of Adam, unless we assume that the history of Adam and Eve dates back many hundreds of thousands of years. The trouble with some theologians—even including many of our own good people—is that they undertake to fix the date of Adam’s transgression as being approximately 4000 years before Christ and therefore about 5932 years ago. If Adam was placed upon the earth only that comparatively short time ago the rocks clearly demonstrated that life and death have been in existence and operative in this earth for ages prior to that time.” (Elder James E. Talmage)
“not begrudge existence to creatures that looked like men long, long ago, nor deny them a place in God’s affection or even a right to exaltation — for our scriptures allow them such. Nor am I overly concerned as to just when they might have lived, for their world is not our world. They have all gone away long before our people ever appeared. God assigned them their proper times and functions, as he has given me mine — a full-time job that admonishes me to remember his words to the overly eager Moses: “For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.” (Moses 1:31.) It is Adam as my own parent who concerns me. When he walks onto the stage, then and only then the play begins.” (Professor Hugh Nibley)
And the last quote I’ll post today is from a devout Latter-day Saint Christian friend, who responded to a question he was asked about weather he likes Charles Darwin’s work or not. This was his answer:
“Yes I like Darwin’s work. There is no doubt in it. It explains every thing that we observe in biology. If someone can come up with a different explanation that better explains all the observations and all the data, and everything that we observe in every aspect of biology, then that person will win a Nobel Prize and will be as famous through the ages, along side the greats like Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Galileo, and Keppler.”
There is still sadly quite a large number of Latter-day Saints who use and accept “Mormon Doctrine (MD from now on)” by Bruce R. McConkie as a source to gain knowledge of Gospel Doctrine, and because it was written by a modern day Apostle of Christ, to many believe MD does indeed teach true Doctrine. Yes Bruce R. McConkie was an Apostle of Christ, and yes he was a very spiritual man, and he did teach us pure doctrines when he was acting as an Apostle, but was he wrong on many issues regarding what is and what is not “Gospel Doctrine?” absolutely he was.
Sadly McConkieism is still alive and well in the Church, and it’s time that we educate members to shy away from such thinking, and study the Gospel themselves through the Holy Ghost, and to stop thinking that everything our leaders say/write is from God. Our Prophet is only a Prophet when he is prophesying, or acting under the influence of God, he is not a Prophet 24/7, and that’s one of the core teachings of Joseph Smith. MD is quite literally what Bruce R. McConkie thought was Gospel Doctrine, it was never supposed to represent what the Church believes as a whole.
For those of you wondering why I’m so against MD (I’m not against it as a book, but I am against members believing that it is Doctrinal), then I encourage you all to read it, and you will know exactly why I don’t accept much of what McConkie thought was Doctrine, or even Christlike.
Now, McConkie was a good man, I’ll always believe that, and he was the one who advocated (many don’t know this) for the African-Americans rights to hold the Priesthood in 1978, but that’s a topic for a future post. I still think McConkie was a true Apostle of Christ, but like all of our leaders, they are not infallible, and they do have their own thoughts and beliefs on issues both in and out of the Church.
Here is a brilliant article further explaining the problems of McConkies “Mormon Doctrine,” and how it clashes with “Gospel Doctrine.”
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